By now, the zombie genre might seem tired and overdone. The Walking Dead is in it’s tenth season, with one spin off show and another on its way, for some reason. There’s iZombie, Warm Bodies, and does anyone remember when Amazon did a Zombieland TV show? Regardless, it’s been 10 years since the first Zombieland premiered, right at the start of a new wave of zombie films and TV shows. Zombieland Double Tap then makes it a point to be aware of its strange existence at what feels like a winding down of the genre. While not completely necessary, the sequel does offer some clever insights into what a zombie apocalypse might look like 10 years down the road, in a time when it’s impossible not to be nostalgic for the good old days.
Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) are all still together, roaming the desolate countryside, living by Columbus’ ever-faithful rules. At the start of the film, they’ve made their home at the White House, and according to Columbus, it’s the best time of his life — even before Zombieland. But hanging out with the same four people for 10 years is starting to get to both Little Rock and Wichita. After one too many overbearing father speeches from Tallahassee and a botched proposal from Columbus, Little Rock and Wichita take off once again in search of something else. For Little Rock, it’s people her age. For Wichita, well, even she doesn’t know.
Double Tap fleshes out its cast of characters to make this world full of zombies feel more lived in. Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, Zoey Deutch, Thomas Middleditch, and Avan Jogia all appear in varying stages of comedic timing. Some of these beats work well, while some seem stuck in the era the world first went to hell. The film does build on its own mythology of the undead pretty well, though its with the same unaffected air of the first film. Yes, there be zombies afoot, and this time, they’re smarter, but how they got that way and why is of no concern to Zombieland’s inhabitants or to us.
With some entertaining action set pieces and a level of self-awareness that helps give it a leg to stand on, Zombieland Double Tap mostly works. Its emotional beats seem to circle around each other and feel replicated from the original, but the chemistry between Eisenberg, Stone, Harrelson, and Breslin is enough to carry the entire film on its shoulders.